Review: RESOGUN (PS4)

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Title: RESOGUN
Format: PlayStation Network Download (PS4) (446 MB)
Release Date: November 15, 2013
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
Developer: Housemarque
Original MSRP: $14.99
ESRB Rating: E10+
RESOGUN is also available on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy.

DLC Review(s) For This Game:
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Voxel:
“A voxel (volumetric pixel or Volumetric Picture Element) is a volume element, representing a value on a regular grid in three dimensional space. This is analogous to a texel, which represents 2D image data in a bitmap (which is sometimes referred to as a pixmap). As with pixels in a bitmap, voxels themselves do not typically have their position (their coordinates) explicitly encoded along with their values. Instead, the position of a voxel is inferred based upon its position relative to other voxels (i.e., its position in the data structure that makes up a single volumetric image). In contrast to pixels and voxels, points and polygons are often explicitly represented by the coordinates of their vertices. A direct consequence of this difference is that polygons are able to efficiently represent simple 3D structures with lots of empty or homogeneously filled space, while voxels are good at representing regularly sampled spaces that are non-homogeneously filled.

Voxels are frequently used in the visualization and analysis of medical and scientific data. Some volumetric displays use voxels to describe their resolution. For example, a display might be able to show 512×512×512 voxels.”

Source

That helps, right? Basically, instead of flat, 2D pixels, Voxels are like stacking building blocks, and what Housemarque has built with them is something like you’ve never seen before. As Super Stardust HD was to the classic game Asteroids, Resogun is to the equally classic game Defender. If you’ve never played those classic arcade games though, you’ll still be fine.

Gameplay:
Gameplay is pretty complex, but in a pretty simple form at the same time. You move with the left stick, fire right and left with the Right Stick. R1 activates your Overdrive, R2 activates a bomb, and L1 is your boost. Oh, I forgot, L2 is used to throw humans, the humans that you’re trying to save (yeah, you read that correctly). Power-ups will appear occasionally that will increase the effectiveness of your main guns.

Resogun is a side-scrolling “SHMUP” (shoot-em up) but in a pretty nontraditional sense. Instead of simply moving from left to right, you instead fly left and right around a cylinder. This is actually a modern take on the classic arcade game Defender which actually featured an endless playfield as well, but instead of flying around a three-dimensional cylinder, it simply looped from one edge to the other. Since there is always something happening on the screen, either in the foreground, in the HUD, or even in the background, you can’t avert your gaze for even an instant without missing a key event or enemy.

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Waves of enemies will appear throughout the level at random times, and it’s your job to keep shooting them in order to keep your multiplier growing, as this is the key to building a huge score. Let a few seconds go without blowing an enemy up, and it resets to 1x and you have to start building it up all over again. Since the game is inspired by the Williams arcade classic Defender, you’ll see humans imprisoned in cells all around the level, 10 in all per planet. Leave the humans running around on the surface for too long, and a UFO will drop-down and abduct him, then lift the human straight up and out of your reach.

You’ll need to choose which of the three available ships suits your needs the best too. Each has a different level of firepower, fire rate, speed/agility, and how long Overdrive lasts. My advice is to use a lot of patience and try each ship a few times. Lately though, I’ve been using ‘Phobos’ which is the slowest of the three in both agility and fire rate, but its guns are devastating against all enemies, even the bosses.

To free the humans from their cells, you’ll need to listen for the audio cue “Keepers Detected”, then start searching for a group of enemies that have a green glow. You’ll need to take them out ASAP, and in certain circumstances, in a particular order. Once you do, you’ll see a glowing line stretch across the level to the location of the human that has been freed, and you’ll also see a green arrow in the circle around your ship, which is pointing to the exact location of the human. Fly down to grab the human, and then take them to the nearest collector, which is a pod at the top of the level with green jets on top. Simply either fly under the pod, or use L2 to throw the human into the field below the collector…. yeah, you can throw the humans with L2 (because hey, why wouldn’t you have a button to throw them?).

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Saving the humans benefits you in a few different ways aside from the fact that this is the entire goal of the game. When saved, you’ll be awarded with different things like bonus points, bombs, and even a shield. You’ll see a meter at the top-left of your screen showing how many humans you’ve saved (green), how many you’ve lost (red), and how many are left (outlines). As you get your ass kicked in this game, trust me when I say that a huge wave of joy will wash over you when you hear the angels singing (metaphorically) when you save that tenth human. It’s a tough thing to keep track of, and the fact that it also comes out of the speaker in the DualShock 4 assures that you’ll hear it.

You’ll also see green energy floating where your destroyed enemies once were. Pick this energy up to build your Overdrive meter. Once it’s ready, hit R1 to activate, and a huge energy bolt will shoot out of the front of your ship, obliterating everything in its path. They even slow the action down so you can see every bit of devastation. I probably don’t use Overdrive enough, as it can add a huge chunk of score if used at the right times, but I tend to save it for fighting bosses.

Another skill that requires a recharge is the Boost move, which is similar to the one in Super Stardust HD. Recharging is timed and doesn’t require anything to be done additionally, so when you hear the sound that tells you it’s full, hit and hold L1 to boost through your enemies. The more you take out, the bigger the finisher will be. Unlike SSHD, when the boost ends, either by you letting-off of L1 or after a set time limit, an energy field blasts out of your ship, taking any close enemies out in the process. The last weapon in your arsenal is, of course, the bomb. If you’re in a pickle, hit R2 to send a wave of destruction all the way around the playfield. Use them sparingly though, because they don’t get replenished very often.

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Boss battles are immense in a few different ways. Not only do they usually fill the screen vertically, until you learn their patterns they can fill your life with anxiety and terror. The bosses are quite impressive in scope, design, and attack patterns, but what else could we expect from Housemarque right?

Visuals:
As was Super Stardust HD to the PS3, Resogun is a visual stunner on the PS4. Calculating somewhere between 7 and 10 million voxels at 60fps in 1080p isn’t an easy task, but the PS4 handles it all without a hiccup. You’ll need to use every ounce of concentration that you possess while you play, because they throw everything at you after about the first minute of gameplay.

Explosions are a wonderful spectacle, and when you’re close to the ground or to structures in the background, they’ll disintegrate into a pile of rubble when a blast occurs. The one downside is that you’ll have a tough time actually enjoying the visuals though, since you’ll be focused on everything being thrown at you. Luckily, that Share function on your PS4 will record some of the highlights for you to view when you need a break.

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Audio:
Once again, Housemarque has done an amazing job with the audio on all fronts. Ari Pulkkinen once again composes a memorable and fitting soundtrack to perfectly match the mood and pace, and sound effects tax your speakers at every turn. One unique addition is their use of the built-in speaker on the DualShock 4, which helps you focus on that haunting female voice. She announces key events, especially when the Keepers appear.

If it was just mixed in with the other audio you’d probably miss these announcements occasionally because there’s so much happening all at once, so in this instance, routing the voice additionally through the controllers’ speaker is much more than just a gimmick, it actually helps immensely. Also, I’m a surround sound guy, but if you have gaming headphones, definitely give them a try with Resogun.

Online/Multiplayer:
Your friend will be able to join you in co-op mode online, and it’s excellent! We ended-up using the PS4’s built-in party system for chat, so I’m not certain if the game has built-in voice chat. You’ll also be able to access online leaderboards showing Global and Friend filters. This is quickly becoming the new Stardust in terms of score chasing, and it has started many discussions in our social outlets.

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Of course, now the topic of Remote Play definitely needs to be addressed, and even with a twitchy title such as this, it actually plays very well in this way. Remote Play does limit you to 30fps, but the lack of any noticeable input lag is more evident here than in any other game that I’ve tried. Obviously, it’s still not the same experience as playing right on the PS4, but man is it close.

Conclusion:
It’s a great game for those that are in to hardcore SHMUPs. I would say that it’s not as accessible as Super Stardust HD, but it can definitely be enjoyed by all. There are many layers of scoring, and many hidden features that still haven’t been discovered, and this is a very good thing. Games over the last few years have lacked those old-school qualities of exploration, trial-and-error, and challenge, and Resogun brings those back in a huge way.

Replayability is essentially endless since there’s always room to improve your overall score, and fortunately, those leaderboards give you immediate motivation to do so. I’m not sure if my love for this game is driven by the old-school feel, but I don’t really care. It’s a fantastic game and everyone needs to own it.

Score:
9.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Avermedia Extremecap U3 screen capture feature.

Written by Glenn Percival

Glenn Percival

Just a guy that loves games, movies, Golf, Football, and Baseball.

Podcast Co-Host, Editor-in-Chief, Video Producer, and whipping-boy

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